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PostPosted: Sun Aug 19, 2012 10:28 am 
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I confess to a weakness for titanium — love the lightweight comfort, and the interesting coloration is a nice change of pace. Truth is, awhile back I picked up a couple of inexpensive Ti quartz watches for hazardous duty use, and I like them so much that sometimes I find myself choosing them over the nicer models in my watch box for everyday wear.

So I thought perhaps I'd take a closer look at the Ti models Breitling used to offer — Seawolf, Chrono Avenger, etc. But I seem to recall reading somewhere that there were issues with the titanium Breitling used, and rather than make a change, they instead chose to simply stop making Ti watches.

Did I just dream that, or is there more I need to know?


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PostPosted: Sun Aug 19, 2012 12:06 pm 
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Well I have the Avenger M1 in titanium.

Ive had it nearly 8 years and I kind of consider it my beater watch (beach/pool/DIY/watersports etc) and I have to say that the quality and finish of the titanium is still top notch after all this time, so you wont hear about any Ling Ti quality issues from me.

My Emergency is also Ti though definitely not used as a beater. Its a Mark 1 non-superquartz (10 years old but purchased as NOS) and Ive had it about 6 months now. Ti case is absolutely flawless and as clean and crisp as the day it came out the factory.

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My Aerospace is also Ti, but it doesn't get much wrist time these days as it sits in my safe at home (in UK) Its my oldest Breitling at about 15 years. Ti finish was just fine last time I checked it!

Cant say Ive heard of any Breitling Ti issues, but maybe some of our more knowlegable members can add something :)

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PostPosted: Sun Aug 19, 2012 12:21 pm 
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Plenty of Breitling Ti issues, largely down to stripped threads in the crown tubes, which in the Aeromarine range means an entire new middle case.

The biggest problem would appear to be that Breitling uses grade 2 titanium rather than grade 5. The new Bentley Superlight is titanium, and that has a different tube construction which means that a middle case wouldn't be needed, but I believe that it's still grade 2.


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PostPosted: Sun Aug 19, 2012 12:23 pm 
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Breitling use grade 2 titanium which isn't as hard or scratch resistant as grade 5 ti which many high end manufacturers use. This means that ti crown threads can and do strip a lot more easily than with steel or grade 5 ti. That's the only issue with Breitling ti specifically. Other ti issues are not just Breitling problems. For example ti has a tendency to "self-weld", specifically on the case back screw threads as they are not undone very often.

Edit - as always, Roff beat me to it.

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PostPosted: Sun Aug 19, 2012 12:31 pm 
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As I said, Im not aware of any issues with the titanium which was the OP's original question.

Issues with owners over tightening and cross threading screwdown crowns, well thats something else 8)

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PostPosted: Sun Aug 19, 2012 12:36 pm 
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jkwelsh wrote:
As I said, Im not aware of any issues with the titanium which was the OP's original question.

Issues with owners over tightening and cross threading screwdown crowns, well thats something else 8)

Yes, but it's not entirely down to just over-tightening. The relative softness of grade 2 ti (plus it's tendency to "self-weld") means that thread stripping is far more likely even with fairly moderate tightening.

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PostPosted: Sun Aug 19, 2012 1:01 pm 
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I just Googled titanium v steel and got over 22million hits :shock:

Any metallurgists want to get in on this debate?

Did you know there are 28 grades of titanium (using the USA ASTM chart) and that Grade 5 (mentioned earlier) is not strictly titanium, its an alloy with a high titanium content. Grade 2 (which Breitling use?) is 100% titanium and certified for airframe, aircraft engine and marine chemical use :geek:

As a former military engineer and general engine tinkerer Ive stripped my fair share of threaded steel nuts/bolts when putting things back together. Maybe I just have a light touch when it comes to my M1 :cheer:

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PostPosted: Sun Aug 19, 2012 1:12 pm 
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Roff and D8 have pretty well summarized the somewhat short and spotty relationship Breitling has had with Ti.

There's an interesting post about Ti in general and its use in watches at ablogtoread :

http://www.ablogtoread.com/watch-case-m ... -titanium/

I'm a chemical engineer and I'll say that titanium isn't used very frequently except as a "cladding" or "lining". It's too expensive and brittle to be used for most structural purposes. It does, however, offer excellent chemical resistance which is advantageous for prolonging equipment lifespans in manufacturing.

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PostPosted: Sun Aug 19, 2012 1:24 pm 
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Good, so I didn't imagine this. Thanks to all for your counsel.

Let's see if I have this straight: there are no failure issues on the part of the titanium itself, it's just that the softer grade is more susceptible to damage from improper tightening of the crown.

Therefore, if I were to pick up a used Ti model, it would be extra critical to verify the condition of the crown tube threads. (And, of course, exercise extra care myself once the watch is mine.)

So what's your feel for the likelihood of experiencing this problem? I know that's probably an impossible question to answer, but have these reports been few and far between, or are we talking epidemic scale? Does it fall more into the category of avoidable failure, or inevitable failure?


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PostPosted: Sun Aug 19, 2012 1:30 pm 
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Sooner wrote:
Good, so I didn't imagine this. Thanks to all for your counsel.

Let's see if I have this straight: there are no failure issues on the part of the titanium itself, it's just that the softer grade is more susceptible to damage from improper tightening of the crown.

Therefore, if I were to pick up a used Ti model, it would be extra critical to verify the condition of the crown tube threads. (And, of course, exercise extra care myself once the watch is mine.)

So what's your feel for the likelihood of experiencing this problem? I know that's probably an impossible question to answer, but have these reports been few and far between, or are we talking epidemic scale? Does it fall more into the category of avoidable failure, or inevitable failure?



We can argue as to whether or not you need to 'improperly' tighten it, or just tighten it reasonably agrressively, but that's largely semantics (although of course not tightening enough also can cause issues).

It's not an epidemic, but it was a significant enough issue for Breitling to discontinue titanium's use.


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PostPosted: Sun Aug 19, 2012 4:32 pm 
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Grade 5 titanium, AKA 6Al-4V, is actually a titanium alloy, and the industry standard's of its type. At half the weight of steel, it has a tensile strength which is about three times of a standard grade stainless steel, such as 316. Titanium alloys (Grade 5, among a few others) have quickly replaced stainless steel for use within the human body because it is superior in virtually every way. High end knives use Grade 5 ti on their handles for the same reasons, given it can withstand tremendous shock. Compared to Grade 2, it is a PITA to machine although it is often made out to be worse than it actually is.

Grade 2 is generally used for welding and corrosion resistance, and it is favored in the industrial community due to its ease of working and (sometimes) cost. It's a pure titanium and its strength is far less than titanium alloys. To my understanding, only Grade 1 has less strength, and Grade 2 is usually compared to "Aircraft Grade Aluminum". It's use is generally in applications where high strength is not required.

How much weaker is Grade 2? IIRC Grade 5 has a yield strength and tensile strength that is about 3 times than of Grade 2.


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PostPosted: Sun Aug 19, 2012 4:45 pm 
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nickzac wrote:
How much weaker is Grade 2? IIRC Grade 5 has a yield strength and tensile strength that is about 3 times than of Grade 2.


Well those aren't really real world measures from a watch case standpoint - yield strength is somewhat relevant I guess and grade 5 is 3x stronger.

Hardness is more directly relevant for watches and grade 2 is Vickers 145, grade 5 is Vickers 349 (316L Stainless is around 150 or so unless hardened).


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PostPosted: Sun Aug 19, 2012 5:20 pm 
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Last edited by nickzac on Sun Sep 16, 2012 2:19 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Sun Aug 19, 2012 7:45 pm 
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I don't know what grade of titanium my two quartz watches are made from. They were by no means expensive pieces (both purchased for <$500 pre-owned), but after 2+ years they have no scratches at all (a few rub marks on the bracelet of the VSA, which I'm sure could be easily removed). Very pleased with them from a durability standpoint, and they're what piqued my interest in learning more about Breitling Ti models (the new Tudor Pelagos has grabbed my attention as well).

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PostPosted: Mon Aug 20, 2012 12:49 am 
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nickzac wrote:
I would have to say that Grade 2 is not well suited for usage in a watch, at least with a screw crown, where as Grade 5 is probably one of the best materials. I've also read people say the ti Breitlings ding about as easily as its steel counterparts...if they made a watch out of 6Al-4V, then that would be an entirely different story as 6Al is tough.

A lot of high-end watch manufacturers do use Grade 5 (or 6Al-4V) and they have much better performance in terms of both ding and scratch resistance. I used to always shy away from ti in the past as my only experience was with a Breitling M1, but I'd have no problems buying a grade 5 ti watch.

As jkwelsh noted, grade 5 is an titanium alloy as opposed to pure ti - about 90% titanium and 10% other metals if I recall. And as we see in most cases, alloys usually perform considerably better than their pure primary constituent - hence why they are made. :)

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